Add 1-¼ teaspoon of active dry yeast to a large bowl then add ½ teaspoons of sugar because that's what causes the yeast to get excited and start working.
Add 1 cup of water to the bowl that has been warmed to about 110°F.
Note: Filtered or spring water will taste best if you have it.
Stir things around with a spoon or whisk to dissolve the yeast then set a timer for 10 minutes.
During this time the yeast will get to work, and after about 8 minutes you’ll see bubbles start to rise to the surface letting you know that it's almost time to move on.
Stir in 1 teaspoon of sea salt and 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to the yeast mixture then add 2-¼ cups of the bread flour.
I use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to combine everything and once it starts looking like dough, flour the work surface and your hands and it's time to start kneading it.
I wear an Apple Watch and when I started kneading, it beeped and said, “it looks like you've started an elliptical workout, would you like me to record this workout” (something like that).
If you give me a choice to workout at the gym or workout by making dough, I'll choose the latter thank you very much!
Now, I must say that you can definitely do this in the mixer but I like to do it by hand. There's something very cathartic about kneading dough and I find it relaxing even if my watch does consider it a workout!
Here's how I knead and you may have your own method. You can also find dozens of methods online if you want to look it up.
I place the heels of my palms on the dough with my fingers angled slightly upwards.
I roll or push the dough forward about 10-12 inches with the heels of my hands. Then I pick up the dough and move it back to the starting point and do it again.
Now I turn the dough 1/4 turn as I’m moving it back to start, and do the same roll/push maneuver another 2 times.
Push, push, rotate, push, push, rotate, you get the picture.
I do this over and over for about 8-10 minutes until the dough starts feeling very elastic.
I have found that the faster I knead, the less it sticks to my hands and the work surface.
Add flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking too much but you don't want to add much.. just a small amount.
The dough should be just a tad sticky for it to turn into a good pizza.
Form the finished dough into a ball then lightly flour it on all sides.
Place it back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place it in a warm place such as on top of the fridge or in the garage so it can rise for 1 hour.
During this time the dough will double in size.
After the hour is up, you will see that it has gotten at least twice as big as it was.
Remove the plastic wrap and punch it down with your fist.
Remove the ball from the bowl and lay it on the work surface. Use a knife to separate it into 2 equal pieces.
Place each of those 2 pieces into a large gallon-sized zip top bag and place into the fridge for at least 3 hours. I have had the best luck with dough that has been in the fridge for 12+ hours.
It continues to rise while it's in the fridge and this is known as the “cool rise”.
Leave in the fridge until you are ready to start making your pizzas.
I have read a LOT of pizza dough recipes and almost every one of them says to let your dough come to room temperature before stretching it.
This recipe proves that it is best to stretch the dough while it is still cold. Your hands will warm it up as you stretch it and if you're careful, you'll be able to do a 16″ diameter pizza with each of these balls that is very thin like the New York style.
You can also stretch it less if you prefer a more traditional crust.
To stretch the dough, hold it on the sides sort of like you'd hold the steering wheel of your car with your hands only a few inches from each other.
Let the weight of the dough stretch itself as you move your hands around the circle.
The more the dough is stretched the faster the process goes.
If it feels like it's going to tear, just rest it across your arm for a few seconds before continuing on.
When it's about the right size, lay it on the floured pizza peel and shape it into a circle.
I love to make barbecue pizza which just means that I use barbecue sauce instead of pizza sauce and I use some leftover smoked meat such as pulled pork or pulled beef.
The other toppings can be whatever you like such as mozzarella cheese, cheddar, jalapeños, onions, etc.
Here's a typical layering:
- barbecue sauce
- fresh mozzarella
- More mozzarella
- shredded cheddar
Here's one I made recently.. I like to load 'em up!
If you're using a home oven, make sure your top oven rack is about 9-10 inches from the top of the oven. Place a pizza stone onto that rack and turn the oven on to 500°F.
Let it preheat for about 30 minutes then right before you are ready to cook your pizza, turn it to broil.
It will stay on broil throughout the cooking process.
At this point the pizza stone is around 500°F due to the preheat and this is to brown and crisp the bottom of the crust.
The ambient temperature in the oven is 500°F with direct heat from the heating elements at the top of the oven for browning the top of the crust and melting the cheese from the top down.
These 2 heat sources will do a great job of cooking your pizza perfectly in about 8-12 minutes but ultimately, you'll need to keep an eye on the pizza and when it's the right color, the bottom is crisp and brown, and the cheese is melted, the pizza is ready to remove and slice.
I have a Camp Chef pizza oven that runs on propane and it's a joy to use. The home oven works well but the pizza oven is designed for pizza and if you love pizza, it's a great investment without spending a whole heckuva lot.
Light the pizza oven about 20 minutes before you're ready to bake your pizza.
The Camp Chef pizza oven that I use has a single burner and I have found that I can set it to just below medium to maintain a steady 550°F.
I also use an infrared thermometer to test the temperature of the stone but this is completely optional. If you preheat the oven for around 20 minutes, the stone will be about the same temperature as the ambient temperature.
Here you can see the VersaTop burner on the bottom and the pizza oven that sits on top of that burner. The VersaTop is purchased separately and includes a flat top griddle.
You can then purchase accessories that can be used with the VersaTop including a barbecue box and the artisan pizza oven that I use.
The VersaTop uses 1 lb propane bottles but you can get a hose that converts it to use a larger 20 lb bottle.
Here's what you'll need to get started:
VersaTop Burner with Griddle Model FTG250
Pizza Oven Accessory Model PZ30
At this temperature, you can expect the pizza to get done in about 12 minutes but this will vary depending on your dough, amount of toppings, wind, etc.
Don't leave the pizza unattended and you'll be fine. Watch the pizza and when it's the right color, the bottom is brown and crisp and the cheese is bubbling, you can rest assured that it's about as perfect as can be.
Using a pizza peel gets easier with practice but I can tell you that I've used one quite a bit and I'm still not very good at it. I like to try, though!
Make sure you flour your pizza peel really good before you place the dough on it.
When you’re ready to move the crust from the peel into the oven, hold it at about a 30 degree angle with the leading edge of the peel touching the pizza stone. You want it to touch the stone in the location where you want the back side of the pizza to end up.
Give it a couple of good forward then back flicks. Once the dough touches the pizza stone, you should be able to slide the pizza peel out from under the dough completely.
TIP: I’ve found that I do a better job of not knocking off all of my ingredients if I press them down a little bit first and make sure they are well seated and ready for some forward/back movement. That may not be kosher but it's what I still have to do to keep them safe. One day I’ll be a pro, and until then, I do what I have to, and you should, too.
Using a pizza pan is a viable option for sure.. in fact, I have a whole box of the disposable kind that I purchased when I first started making pizza and they kept me sane when I just couldn't seem to get the pizza peel to work properly.
Your crust won't get quite as crispy that way but it's still crispy, still delicious and it's okay if that's what you need to do to make it happen.
Sometimes if we have a pizza party, I'll give everyone a pan and let them stretch and build their own pizza on that instead of using the pizza peel. It speeds things up and everyone is happy.
Absolutely and I have that planned.. be watching for that very soon! In fact, I'll send out an email to everyone on my newsletter list once that is available. Subscribe here to make sure you get that email as well as receive my new recipes just as soon as they get published.